Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sexual Liberty and Intelligent

The movement of feminism in western countries has intrigued me a lot, especially the wave in the 60’s with regard to sexual liberty. I believe the idea of sexual liberty is still popular in western societies nowadays. This randomly reminded me of Freud’s idea of the “Libido” and Sartre’s idea of existentialism. Libido is defined as the instinct energy or force, contained within what Freud called the “id”. It is this sexual desire that makes sexual behavior justifiable. And according to Sartre, existence precedes essence, therefore human beings have the freedom to create their own essence and since they are themselves freedoms, they are free to choose. Based on these theories, people are able to claim for sexual liberty.

While sexual liberty offered people the freedom to have sex and enjoy the life, meanwhile it has brought about some consequences which people might be unaware of. An article I recently read has unveiled some really interesting and unbelievable facts. Sexual liberty can lower people’s intelligence! The article showed a research fact that for males, the bigger their genitals are, the smaller the dimensions of their brains are and therefore their IQs are lower too. The example of the ancient Egyptian civilization has helped prove it. Everyone would stand in awe at the pyramid their ancestors had built in ancient times but nobody today could ever be able to build up a similar architecture. It is obviously telling us that modern people are not as smart as the ancient Egyptian people. After this, the article tells us more about how later Egyptians had fell to other nations and how other people such as the Jews still preserve higher IQs. If the Egyptian had had the similar IQs as their ancestors, they would have not lost to any other invaders. But the fact that they are losing almost everything to other people has clearly proved that their IQs are no longer as high as before. Due to the long and old ages these Egyptians people were living in, it is hard to find enough evidence to prove that sexual liberty is the only reason to lower their IQs. But the fact that other people such as the Jewish still have high IQs nowadays because of their conservative ways of living has more or less proved it to be true.

Personally I have no doubt in this fact because I’ve also heard some similar examples occurred in countries like China (in ancient times) and Japan. Sadly though, there is no way to tell what will happen in the future if the society goes on like this. In western countries, sexual liberty will always be a popular fad, and this is largely due to the culture so it’s not easy to change it. There’s certainly no fault in this fad but people should at least be aware of it just for the sake of their descendants.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In Bad Faith: Ignoring Your Own Transcendence

During last class we discussed an alternate example to the waiter in the cafe as acting in bad faith. I argued that someone who works as a stripper provides a better example of someone who "flees their freedom" and transcendence, and pretends to only be a facticity. They are not merely unchanging objects, but they have the freedom to change and transcend. The bad faith comes in from the fact that when playing the role of a stripper, whose only purpose is to bring pleasure to others, they degrade themselves by allowing others to treat them as an object and who does not have freedom and transcendence. Obviously this is their personal choice to act this way, and the argument against this being in bad faith is that they are responsible for their choice, and if they see nothing wrong with it and take responsibility for their choice then it is not in bad faith. I would argue that it is in bad faith even if they do take full responsibility and do not deny their transcendence, because they are still denying one key aspect of transcendence: that in our own actions we are not just responsible to ourselves, but are also responsible to others.

In Sartre's "Existentialism is a Humanism," he refutes the criticism used against him saying that existentialism is basically a selfish philosophy lacking in morality. He says that when we make a choice, we are not only fully responsible for that action, but we are also responsible to others. We should make choices that we would want others to make, so that you would want all men to be "measured" by you. Even if the stripper treats their profession as a transcendent choice, and not as something that have to do and are not responsible for, it is still in bad faith because their choice is denying their responsibility to fellow human beings. Their choice to be a stripper has the effect of influencing how men treat women, and how women allow themselves to be treated. Men often treat everyday women who are not strippers as objects that can be disposed of, and women allow this because it has almost become a normal expectation. I am in no way saying that strippers are wholly responsible for this phenomenon, because Sartre would say that everyone is responsible for allowing this type of treatment to occur. However, I do think that being in that line of work denies that allowing men to see you as an on object contributes to the large problem of mistreatment of women that occurs all the time.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Speeches

Click here for the page where you can find both audio recordings and transcritps of Malcolm X's "The Ballot or the Bullet" and Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speeches.

Who is the parrhesiastes?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Kierkegaard and Faith

Prior to my introduction to Kierkegaard, I never really questioned the stories that comprise my faith. Baptized before I was even a year old, I accepted Christianity as an infant, quite an achievement for someone who could neither walk nor talk. My parents baptized me just like their parents had baptized them. This cycle of faith led me to assume that my elders were completely familiar and aware of the Christian stories, and because of this felt strongly that I too must learn from the story’s messages. So why, when I asked my mother and father if they would be gentle as they placed me on the altar for sacrifice, where they so taken aback?

Okay, so I agree that this scenario is a bit extreme and that accepting Christianity does not necessarily entail one to kill their only son, however, it does support Kierkegaard’s belief that certain components of Christianity are “irrational.” It is frightening to think that the story of Abraham and Isaac is the Christian story of faith. When one talks about experiencing ghosts, producing magic, or anything involving the supernatural, most likely, they would be accused of insanity or experimenting with acid. So how is it that there are over 2 billion Christians in the world who believe that Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, raised people from the dead, and so on. I don’t mean to suggest that Christianity makes fools of its believers or that it shouldn’t be practiced, rather that one should analysis and think hard about what it is that he or she really believes in, and whether or not they are willing to accept the many paradoxes that can be found in Christian principles.

Kierkegaard addresses examples of paradoxes that he finds in the Christian faith, one that Jesus Christ is considered both man and god. The Christian faith states that there once existed a man, Jesus Christ, who was made up of both one hundred percent man, and one hundred percent god. If one chooses to agree that Jesus Christ indeed existed, he or she is disagreeing with the basic principles of logic and reason. Then again, many aspects of science contradict components of the bible.

Kierkegaard does not think that believing in God is foolish; rather, he thinks the opposite. He views the dogmas of Christianity as implausible because “being raised to assent to certain absurd formulations, to attend church with family and friends, and to call oneself ‘Christian’ by right of birth has nothing to do with being a Christian” (91). He doesn’t want society to blindly subject themselves to a religion simply because it is the sociably acceptable thing to do. Instead he thinks one should access their own beliefs, independent from others, and hopefully, he or she will come to the conclusion, like him, that even though Christianity is irrational, God is beyond reason.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Predetermination vs. Self-Empowerment

Sartre views essentialism as a progression in which “man first of all exists, encounters himself, surges up in the world - and defines himself afterwards.” God does not exist, according to Sartre, and therefore predetermination is illusionary. Consequently, man must exist and experience before establishing for himself essence independent of deism. Sartre’s commentary is inherently atheistic and thus unlikely to resound amongst those with immutable faith in God. However, for those willing to reject conviction in God and seek personal essence, Sartre claims angst and dejection to be common emotions. Such feelings result from the relinquishment of “deterministic excuses” with which personal responsibility is avoided.

I do not understand why despair would result from rejecting predetermination. Why is it bad that freedom brings personal responsibility? Responsibility implies the presence of choice, meaning that individuals maintain rule over themselves. Even though responsibility invariably carries consequences, an individual’s ability to make absolute decisions should be empowering. I understand that many people may be fearful of assuming control over their lives, but isn’t the notion of personal freedom more satisfying than that of an external force controlling life? Even if that outside force is compassionate and all powerful, I prefer think of myself as supreme ruler of myself.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Kierkegaard For Modern Times

Kierkegaard was disgusted by the Christianity of his time, and the way he felt it had been overly democratized. Having faith is not easy and should be a very private and difficult achievement. Everyone should find something they passionately care about, and Christianity is not a passion that is meant for everyone. The difficulty of true faith is shown by the story of Abraham and Isaac, and the fact that Abraham has to go against the ethical realm for his faith by his willingness to kill his son.

Kierkegaard's extension of Hegel's philosophy can be taken in two ways in light of modern Christianity. One interpretation could take his philosophy to encourage an extreme zeal for Christianity, such as the evangelical movements that have been occurring in the United States. These evangelical movements want Christianity to be a difficult choice, but with the obligation to spread this zeal to other people and to fight for their strong beliefs. The other interpretation would be one emphasizing the individual nature of the choice, and the fact that it may not necessarily be a passion that is meant for everyone. I think that the second interpretation is the healthiest for modern times, and that Kierkegaard would have wanted Christian faith to be an individual experience.

I have a problem with anyone thinking it is their right to push their personal beliefs on another person. Everyone should find something to be passionate about, but should not assume that others need to also be so passionate. There is nothing wrong with wanting to share your passion, but it goes to far when it seeks to stifle the rights and passions of others. Freedom to be faithful is important, but so it the freedom to not be ruled by the faith of others.